City of Saskatoon looking at range of mandatory COVID-19 masking options
A report will go to city council in either August or September
The City of Saskatoon says it's looking at a range of options for requiring the use of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including policies for city-owned facilities as well as a broader bylaw like those enacted elsewhere in North America.
"It's definitely time to start taking the next steps, especially with the numbers we're seeing in the province now," city manager Jeff Jorgenson said Monday in response to a question about mandatory masking from councillor Bev Dubois.
Just after the meeting got underway, provincial health officials announced 31 new cases of COVID-19, including eight cases in Saskatoon.
"It's not even flu season," Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson said the city is preparing a report for city councillors that will look at a number of options, including mandatory masking policies for some city buildings where physical distancing may not be possible.
Jorgenson also confirmed the city will evaluate whether it should follow in the footsteps of other North American cities.
"Different levels of government are stepping in to require masks at a more bylaw type of level where they're ... going past civic facilities and services ... and they're mandating masks in other areas, even [in] businesses," Jorgenson said.
Jorgenson said options will be presented to councillors either in August or September, perhaps in phases.
"We're not going to need to to include all civic services perhaps in that first report," Jorgenson said.
He said the city will also need to think about its policy for Saskatoon Transit riders in late 2020 or early 2021.
"We're going to have to turn our attention to transit because [with] transit, you just don't have those same opportunities [for distancing]," Jorgenson said.
Dubois said "lots of folks" have contacted her to ask what the city's plans are in terms of mandatory masking.
Top doc recommends indoor mask use
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, spoke about the importance of wearing masks indoors during the provincial news conference Monday.
"As we enter into the fall, we all must have one or two masks for every member of the household," Shahab said.
"I would really encourage everyone, whenever we go indoors to shop or an indoor area where there's other people around us, to put on that mask and really get into that habit of wearing a mask."